Dr. Wallace

My friend and I have been good friends ever since we were in first grade. We are now in our second year of high school. Even though we are still good friends, it seems we are always getting upset with each other. Sometimes we don’t talk to each other for weeks.

I really like this girl and want to keep her as a good friend. What can I do to see that our disagreements are few and far between?

— Nameless,

Brunswick, Ga.

Nameless: ‘Teen Magazine printed an article called “Bugged by Your Buddies?” and listed 10 tips toward a truce. Clip this out and post it on your bulletin board. It’s excellent reading, especially if disagreements between your friend and you start to surface again.

1. Put yourself in your friend’s shoes. Ask yourself, “What could she have been thinking when she did this?”

2. Unclear how to handle a problem? Put some time and distance between you and your friend while you think about it. Clear your head. Then, when you’re ready ...

3. Talk things out. Communicating your problems often strengthens and deepens your friendship. If you really have trouble with words, write yourself a script and practice what you want to say.

4. Don’t talk to other pals about your problem with her. That’s unfair. After all, the issue is between the two of you, no one else. So go straight to the source.

5. When you talk, do so in private, not in public where either of you may feel self-conscious or embarrassed.

6. If you’re the type of person who can simply never bring yourself to say how you feel, then write your friend a letter. The point is to make sure you get things out in the open. It’s when you clam up and ignore the problem that resentment grows and ruins a friendship.

7. Always listen.

8. Be patient and give your friend time and encouragement to change.

9. Remember, even good people can act “not so good” sometimes!

10. Make up! It’s not worth throwing away years of friendship over one upsetting incident.

Dr. Wallace: I’m 16 and I’m straight as an arrow. I’ve never smoked, drank, used drugs or had sex. I’ve had lots of offers to do these things, but I always refuse. Recently I met a really cute guy from a neighboring high school. He is into drugs and alcohol and is known as a swinger when it comes to girls.

He has asked me out and I really would like to go out with him because I feel I can change him to my moral standards. My parents don’t want me to get involved. They are afraid my reputation might be damaged and I could never allow that to happen because I’m the president of a very influential girls’ club that requires that members have high standards.

Do you think my reputation would be damaged if I dated this guy?

— Nameless, Palm Springs, Calif.

Nameless: Reputations are formed by what you do and whom you hang around with. In your case, dating a “swinger” who uses drugs and alcohol will tarnish your reputation. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it. I’m with your parents — I don’t think it is.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.